Transitions_A Slow Hotel For Slow Living
Maria Laura Castro
The project focuses on the designing of a Hotel with eco-tourist principles in the Costa Rican province of Limon. As a first exercise we had to develop a small “manifesto” about our position towards architecture (in general terms), and later, relate it with the hotel design. The hotel itself became an exercise about the experiences and phenomena that define it and define the world. Taking the concept of “phenomena” as the engine of human existence and the different actors that surround it, the hotel was finally defined as a “slow hotel for slow living”. Phenomena define us as beings in the world; at certain times and spaces. At the same time, we feel phenomena through our senses. In order to understand a site and ourselves within it, we need time. That is why we must live slowly, with vivid and exposed senses. Only in this state of body and mind can we understand the world again as an experience where preconceptions are forgotten and experiences come full of meaning.
The hotel was conceived as a journey to find a correct understanding of the human place in the world: understanding nature and its phenomena; understanding ourselves on the site; understanding us as part of the phenomena; getting involved with the phenomena, and giving a part of us to the site and the users that share the experiences (they are also a part of phenomena). Men can’t live isolated, that’s why a transition is designed to go from a state of solitude and isolation to one of coexistence and sharing of everything that has been learned.
The images try to transmit thise phenomena, those experiences, those transitions. These are almost photographic frames, with a small screen format that try to concentrate on a specific moment or experience while gathering some actors that influence that specific time. Lights, laughs, reflections, body positions; we want to see and be seduced, “what if I sit there and the sun could touch me like that?”, “I bet the water there is deliciously cold”,”time seems to run slow there”.
Who influences you graphically?
I really started focusing on representing architecture through collage as a result of KooZA/rch, a professor showed it to me and I fell in love with it. I started reading all the various interviews that have many references on this same question and I take a lot from there. But I have always appreciated Mies Van der Rohe’s collages; really simple but they talk a lot with few strong elements.
What is the effect and purpose of the square format?
At first the format was more like a compressed rectangle, almost a square that could contain a narrow view of a specific moment that was focused on a small quantity of objects that each of them could give something to it. The purpose was showing details of materials and environments. Then we had this idea of presenting the project in some sort of frames; each image, plan or text would have its own frame and the reader would have to walk to the next frame in order to follow the project, he would be doing a transition. We standardized the frame to a 50 cm by 50 cm square and printed the images on 30 cm by 30 cm.
What is your take on the art of collage? How does this enable the construction of images and thereby new narratives through fragments?
These were my first collages and I was really experimenting. I started understanding how the elements (images), positioned on their right and very thoughtful place or simply random, could give different emotions and transmit different situations. Each fragment evokes different thoughts, moments or feelings.
Each image generally features one silhouette, why? To what extent does it reflect the idea of finding ourselves?
The images does feature a silhouette, but it is always surrounded by nature. It was very important to transmit how the hotel, that had a really different typology, could be lived. The need of a human scale was basic to understand the scale of the project, the activities that could take place and what the spaces could transmit on the user.
How important is the tracing of how light penetrates the space in revealing the space itself and how it is perceived?
I think light is fundamental on understanding and living a space. Each hour, each minute, daylight will transform a space, why not taking advantage of this and design with it? The light becomes a piece of the whole design. It’s fascinating how light can light up a room from the very first second of sunrise and change minute by minute its color, the density of the ambiance, the shadows.
You talk about slow hotel for slow living, to what extent does architecture have the power to make us stop in this extremely fast world we live in?
I really tried to go deep into cycles, phenomena and architecture. That helped me understand that architecture is an artificial extension of the nature. We can only understand nature with time, analysing its cycles, really becoming part of it. I think what architecture can do to make us stop is giving spaces to stop: stop our ears, our eyes, our touch, give us long walks, really explode our senses because we connect and understand the world through them.
How does the use of images, in terms of selection and or materiality chosen reflect the idea of ‘slow’? and what does ‘slow’ mean nowadays?
I think slow could mean give value to things or moments. Stop for a minute and listen, touch, smell, laugh, lay down, even run really fast. The images reflect some Costa Rican elements, they show nature, actions, ambiance or a certain moment of the day. These elements are on the image so we could appreciate them, stop and understand.